Japanese lawmakers want to triple cigarette prices..

June 16, 2008 - At present, Tokyo is a city with the world's most affordable cigarettes. Taxes currently account for 189 yen ($1.75)of the price of a 300 yen ($2.77) packet in Japan. Lawmakers have proposed raising taxes for Japan's cigarettes to fund rising welfare costs in a country where smoking kills about 100,000 people a year. Japan Tobacco Inc. (JT) controls more than 70% of the cigarette market in a country where about 40% of the male population smokes. A state-owned monopoly until 1985, the Japanese Finance Ministry now owns half of the company. JT says the proposal would devastate the nation's tobacco industry and could hurt the share price of the world's third-largest publicly traded cigarette maker. Japan Tobacco is the world's #3 tobacco firm, trailing trailing Altria and British American Tobacco. Japan Tobacco also operates in the foods, pharmaceuticals, agribusiness, engineering, and real estate industries. JT bought Britain's Gallaher Group for some $15 billion in April 2007. JTL's Mild Seven remains best-selling cigarette in Japan for nearly 30 yrs. References: Japanese lawmakers want to triple cigarette prices, AFP, 6/6/2008; , China Daily, 6/13/2008; Hiking cigarette taxes 'disastrous' move for consumers, industry: JT, The Japan Times, 6/13/2008. The U.S. can expect, in the not to distant future, an almost tripling on the federal excise tax on cigarettes and a hefty increase in the tax on other tobacco products. Click on image to enlarge..